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The Veef Files: Origins of the VF-25

The Veef Files
Origins of the VF-25

Written by Andrew (VF5SS)

On the eve of Macross’s twenty-fifth anniversary, there was much trepidation as to how the series would progress in terms of Valkyrie designs after the side-story, Macross Zero. The titular VF-0 was essentially another take on the classic VF-1 design so there did not appear to be much progress. The VF-0’s antagonist, the more visually striking Sv-51, garnered a fair bit of interest on its own and is features some unconventional touches that seemed to usher in Macross’s move to using computer generated imagery to render robots and other vehicles. Despite many prominent scenes in Zero utilizing hand drawn robots, the talk of the community was how CG had allowed for more complexity in Valkyrie designs.

Source: Macross Mecha Manual

With the announcement of Macross Frontier, there was again much speculation as to how the appropriately named VF-25 would look. After months of squinting at sketchy lines in magazines scans, a trailer was released that debut the Macross series’ latest flagship Valkyrie. The furious analysis of mere seconds of screen time prompted much speculation. Some looked at upper chest as saw the humble VF-5000 while others freeze-framed the seemingly bizarre transformation and feared the Valkyrie was coming apart as it shifted between modes. The discussion turned to unease as a green lightning bolt and talk of the Sv-51 retconning the developmental history of Valkyries made some feel soured at the prospect of a new series.

Source: Dengeki Online

This early artwork from Shoji Kawamori reflects the design and colors of the VF-25 in the trailer. This is one of the few official hand drawn images of the VF-25 done by Kawamori himself. The final design has a different number of head laser cannons and lacks the typical sensors on the nosecone that most main Valkyries possess.

As the main creative influence behind Macross as a story and as the designer of all of the Valkyries people care about, Shoji Kawamori has been criticized for the direction has taken both aspects of the series. Some of his own directorial outings were met with confusion by longtime fans while the lack of solid information about the creative process further drove rumors. In the universal language of mechanical designs, there appeared to be a shift in his style. Kawamori’s extensive work on the rapidly growing Armored Core game series seemed to be creeping back into Macross. The modular and perceived throwaway nature of the AC designs made some fear the same thing would happen to the Valkyries, which many revered as carefully constructed works of art. The loudly unspoken disdain for retcons also brewed negativity to a Valkyrie that barely existed for more than ten seconds.

After the series premiered, the tension eased up as the VF-25 settled in as the new frontrunner for all the merchandise. One comment that stuck with me about the design was Kawamori himself saying “it looks like VF-1 yet transforms like the VF-19.” While others were convinced of the VF-25’s clearly dominated heritage to the Sv-51, the comments from Kawamori and the idea of a Valkyrie that “flies apart” during transformation got me thinking about the origin of the design.

Source: Shoji Kawamori Macross Design Works Page 12

While flipping through the Macross Design Works book, I recalled this particular early design for the VF-19Kai. While this drawing is separated from the one for the VF-25 by about thirteen years, there are many similarities between the two. First off, the basic pose and position of the Battroid mode is nearly identical. It also has similarly angled shins that end with a raised ankle guard. The groin area does not look like the faux nosecone codpiece like in the finalized VF-19. While there is no finalized transformation diagram for this design, one can see links between fighter and Battroid that echo how the VF-25 transforms. For instance, the nosecone is in the middle of the chest and points down in Battroid mode. The position of the canards in both modes show how they are mounted on rotating LERX mounts on the side of cockpit. This is nearly identical to how the VF-25 transforms to Battroid mode. Lastly the head is integrated into the dorsal spine of the fighter mode just it is on the VF-25. The use of a shield as part of the rear of the fighter and the prominent raised curved shape of the engine nacelles would be echoed in both the Macorss 7 era VF-19s and the VF-25.

Source: Shoji Kawamori Macross Design Works Page 80

Two early designs for the YF-19 as found in the Macross Design Works. The messy sketch between them is omitted for clarity. The left sketch appears to be the rough for the colored drawing seen above. The right drawing has more features of the final YF-19 like the shoulder flaps and a “19” mark on the rightmost pauldron.

Source: Shoji Kawamori Macross Design Works Page 81

While these fighters are not linked to any particular Battroid design, they do appear to belong to the same family of designs as the colored artwork. Both do lack a visible indication of where the head stores unlike the color drawing and the final VF-19 and also the VF-25.

Source: Shoji Kawamori Macross Design Works Page 84

This incomplete transformation diagram about the early VF-19 design reveals the VF-25’s true heritage. Despite the faded lines and overall poor quality of the image due to how small it is in the Macross Design Works, we can still make out some important details. The middle image shows the interior of the underside and how everything stores in fighter mode. As I believe these sketches correspond to the color drawing, I can see that the head is visible behind the cockpit block and both legs are connected to the groin section that is normally integrated into the ventral gullet of the fighter mode. The arms appear to swing out 180 degrees on a pivot for conversion to Battroid mode. The last image is a rear view of the Battroid shows off a familiar back plate that greatly resembles that of the VF-25. While the wings are attached to the hips like the finalized VF-19, all of the aforementioned elements all point to this being essentially a prototype for the VF-25.

Source: Macross Chronicle Volume 10

Out of all the trepidation and unease about a great change in Valkyrie design, the final VF-25 Messiah Valkyrie does not appear to be a great upheaval in style. Instead it is the refinement of the earliest designs for its predecessor both within the series and in real life: the VF-19.

Posted 8 February, 2012 - 19:15 by VF5SS
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